Small Law Firms, Wall Street Journal

Size Matters: To Sir With Love

I am more depressed than usual. I blame Mystal and his expose on What You Can’t Do With a Law Degree. I know if given the chance, I could make the most divine half-caf-extra-whip-extra-hot-mocha. But, alas, I am destined to stay a lawyer.

That is little solace, of course, because it is hard to get a job, hard to keep a job, and in my experience, hard to stomach the job. And, according to that Wall Street Journal article that everyone posted as a Facebook status, law firms want to keep the number of associates low, work them like dogs, and pay them like, well, high-paid professionals. This means that recent graduates are still screwed, and I am having trouble taking off my sweatpants today.

Just when I thought all was lost, however, I found a positive story about law firms. And, of course, because that is how we roll, it involves a small firm….

John Foy and Associates, an Atlanta personal injury firm, launched an innovative mentoring program and contest for young attorneys. The details for the contest are as follows:

The contest is an opportunity for law students to gain an inside look at the workings of a major law firm by blogging about the firm once a week for a year. At the end of that year, if all the goals set forth in the contest are met, the law students will receive a letter of reference from Mr. Foy – a huge aid in the search for a law associate position – as well as a sit down dinner with John Foy where they will be able to ask questions and take photographs with the press.

What I like about Foy’s contest is the recognition that mentoring and helping young attorneys (or aspiring attorneys) can be mutually beneficial. I have no qualms with the fact that this contest is a marketing opportunity for Foy. I do not even have a problem with the strange dinner and photo shoot that goes to the winner. And, while I would prefer that Foy offers the winner a job — rather than a reference letter — I appreciate what he is trying to do.

Foy’s contest is a start, but it does not go far enough. There needs to be more programs aimed at helping recent grads secure employment (unless, of course, they want to go solo), and mentoring programs for associates working in law firms. If it is true that it is harder than ever to become a partner, then young attorneys need all the help they can get. Who better to give advice than someone who successfully navigated that path?

A partner I worked for in Biglaw told me that the law was a “noble profession.” He wore Brioni suits and had amethyst cufflinks. I am not sure how he defines noble, but let’s say he is right. I want to hear about that side of the practice. I want to hear stories about what small firms are doing to help their associates and, ideally, to help new graduates. And, if you cannot help further Cufflinks’s notion that law is a noble profession, please send me your tips for how to ace the MCAT.

If you are interested in Foy’s contest, applications will be accepted until February 17.

John Foy and Associates Introduces Innovative Mentoring Program Contest for Law Students [PR Newswire]

When not writing about small law firms for Above the Law, Valerie Katz (not her real name) works at a small firm in Chicago. You can reach her by email at and follow her on Twitter at @ValerieLKatz.

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